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S2E19: Work-Life Balance in Negative Workplaces: Insights from Jay White

Navigating toxic workplaces is indeed a complex and prevalent challenge in many professional environments. In this insightful episode, we delve into Jay White’s remarkable journey, tracing his path from an electrician living in shipping containers to becoming a leader in digital strategies at a software company. His story is a powerful example of resilience and adaptation, offering valuable lessons on thriving amidst workplace negativity and adversity.

Jay opens up about the red flags he overlooked during the recruitment process and the significant impact these overlooked details had on his personal life and work-life balance. His experiences highlight the critical role of clear communication and well-defined expectations in the workplace. This discussion brings to light how mismatches in communication and expectations can lead to job dissatisfaction and heightened workplace stress.

A significant part of our discussion focuses on the negative effects of questionable management techniques and how outdated managerial approaches can foster a toxic work environment. These insights serve as crucial reminders to be vigilant of warning signs that may indicate a company’s true values and intentions.

We also explore the challenges and confusions that arise from poor communication and organization within a company. The importance of a positive first impression and the impact of effective onboarding processes on an employee’s experience are underscored in this context.

Furthermore, the episode touches upon the valuable lessons learned from navigating toxic workplace environments. We discuss the importance of self-reflection, treating oneself with kindness, and recognizing that success is often a blend of luck and competence. The conversation also covers the complexities of maintaining friendships in the workplace and the necessity of protecting oneself in competitive environments. These experiences, Jay notes, significantly influence our leadership styles, highlighting the importance of empathy and adaptability in leadership.

Adding a cultural dimension, we engage in a lively conversation about the unique culture of New York City. Jay shares his experiences and affection for the city’s diverse neighborhoods. The discussion also humorously touches on the intriguing personality of Long Island medium Teresa Caputo and the impact of negative reviews.

Towards the end of our episode, we focus on job satisfaction and the importance of prioritizing personal fulfillment over merely pursuing financial gains in one’s career. We caution against being overly influenced by promises of future promotions and discuss the potential pitfalls associated with Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs) in companies. This conversation emphasizes the significance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance and choosing a job that resonates with one’s personal values and goals.

In conclusion, this episode serves as a powerful reminder that while navigating toxic workplaces is challenging, it also presents opportunities for significant personal and professional growth. By emphasizing clear communication, empathy, adaptability, and a balanced approach to work and life, individuals can transform adversity into an avenue for meaningful development and fulfillment.

work-life balance
work-life balance

Listen to how balancing work-life is important to a healthy workplace:

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Nicola
Host
00:00
Well, let’s get cracking Jay welcome. Would you like to tell us where you’re from, who you are and kind of what industry you work in?
Jay
Interviewee
00:13
Yeah, so my name is Jay White, so originally from Ireland and kind of now living in New Zealand, and over my course of my career which still seems weird to say the word career, because it sounds like something my dad would say I’ve lived and worked in like nine different countries and a couple of different industries. So I actually started off as an electrician and now I’m head of digital. So I’ve had my last 10 or 12 years have been in product management, digital, leading teams in the software space.
Nicola
Host
00:46
Awesome. What kind of got you into that? Like what, what? How did your career develop?
Jay
Interviewee
00:52
How did my career develop? So how it came from being an electrician. So I was like a high voltage electrician, which was a really specialised thing. So we would take six month contracts at power stations and I specialised in conversions, so taking old coal, fossil fuel power stations and making them renewable. But then you just ended up in six month, nine month contracts and you were like blown around to different spaces and then you never got to settle anywhere because you would come in and you were brought in by Siemens and you were probably you were paid a bit more than the people that were already there. So there was already this like disparity there.
01:33
And then I met my current wife and I just got sick of my next job was going to be in the but f of nowhere in Canada and I was like I’m not moving. I’m not doing this again, because when you go like I’ve lived in here and I’ve lived here, everyone thinks it’s like glamorous. But actually there’s no power stations in metropolitan areas. You know, if you go work in one in Adelaide, for example, you’re nowhere near any town you’re living in. It’s pretty much a fly in, fly out piece and you just get sick of that after a while, and that does breed a real us versus them toxic mentality, if you ever want to see, see that I love that you called her your current wife Was their plan for wife number two.
Gina
Host
02:16
No, but I’m her second, and so she may be the one that she might have the plan Nicola.
Jay
Interviewee
02:23
I’m not saying I have the power, and she’s the one with the history of upselling and upcycling.
Gina
Host
02:31
That your job? I don’t this is so obscure, but there was like a French series and I think it was called the Wall and it was about it’s like. It described exactly in my mind what you were describing, because it was like they were in this like really remote part of Canada or Quebec and it was just like all of the buildings that you know were doing. They weren’t doing like what you were doing, they were doing something else, but it was just very remote and everything existed just for the workers, but like you could only come in by bus or come in by plane and everything was contained to that little area. It was like you would get shipments in and that’s it, and it was like you were cut off from most of civilization. Yeah, very similar.
Jay
Interviewee
03:19
So I worked in one in Wales and we lived in shipping containers. That would fit it, yeah. And it just creates this weird dynamic of if you’re not in with the project manager of the site supervisor, your life’s not going to be really good. Like you’d be the one in the trenches pulling the cables while the favourites are doing the nicer jobs.
Gina
Host
03:42
Got it. That sounds terrible.
Jay
Interviewee
03:47
You don’t realise it when you’re in it, which is the interesting thing.
Gina
Host
03:51
You never do right, nicola. Whenever you’re in a toxic environment, it’s like we’ve talked about various experiments like where you’re just swimming to stay afloat and you don’t realise how hard you’re working. You know stuff like that. I think that’s common with a lot of people who experience like toxic workplaces and burnout and stuff. You don’t realise how bad it is till you’re out of it.
Nicola
Host
04:14
Yeah, until you’ve actually removed yourself out of it, or if it’s so toxic or so blatantly toxic you know, like when we spoke to Kira about the microaggressions, right, sometimes they’re really obvious and you have to call someone in to come and kind of sort it out. But I think that gets to like that’s a whole different kettle of toxic.
Jay
Interviewee
04:37
I think the one that stuck out to me the most was when my four year old like begged me not to go to work anymore, because I didn’t play with her anymore. I got harmed because of where I was working. It was like, first of all, everyone had to be in the office. It was that weird thing of like if I don’t see you, you’re not productive.
05:02
Really weird because you don’t need to watch me do a PowerPoint presentation. A lot of like product roles in particular, like a lot of it’s thinking, so there’s no actual output, and it’s like are you more creative walking on the waterfront or are you going to be more creative of someone butch you in the box and say you better think of the next thing right now. Yeah, kind of eye-opening when, like, you’ve got a four year old telling you not to go. So they’re kind of seek ways really nicely.
Nicola
Host
05:32
So you know, we started a conversation around your previous like toxic workplace that you had come from. So I’m kind of curious to know what were some of the red. Well, how did you get into that job in the first place? We won’t say where it was, as usual, but I’m curious to know how you got into the role and were there any red flags and like the recruitment process, or did you see any red flags right up front, or did the red flags come later, when you were embedded, and then all of a sudden you were like surprise red flags everywhere.
Jay
Interviewee
06:09
No, I think I ignored a lot of them throughout the process.
Gina
Host
06:13
Right, but looking back, do you see them now and can you share what they are now, if you remember them? Yeah, it was really interesting.
Jay
Interviewee
06:21
So when I came out of so I did three interview stages and I came out of two interviews and I came out of two of them going like, well, I obviously haven’t got this job because, like for the first one, the person interviewed me I didn’t speak, so it was like a half an hour interview. Well, it probably spoke for three minutes of the interview where they just told me all about how great they were and how great the culture was. So I just came out of that going like, okay, they’ve obviously just filled the time and you know we’ll just move on with our lives because it doesn’t matter.
06:54
Then it went to the next stage and the next stage and it was like I think one of the two big red flags now I’ve always looked for is if you’re going to work for someone, ask them what their hobbies are outside of work and if they don’t have any, run like just run.
Gina
Host
07:12
That’s a good point.
Jay
Interviewee
07:14
Because they’re just going to be on their farm the whole time like all they care about, or all they do is work right, or they’re not going to understand that you will have a hobby and why that’s important to you and for just like a life balance period, right?
Gina
Host
07:28
Like if they’re probably working the whole time and even though, Nicola, we’ve talked about this before, like even though it’s not written, if they’re your supervisor, they’re still going to expect you to respond to them.
Jay
Interviewee
07:40
Yeah.
Gina
Host
07:41
Even if it’s outside of working hours, which is like so messed up. Don’t you think the red flag was that second interview where they just talked about themselves and like, how, like, if somebody is saying how great they are at something and you actually put them to the task like over and over, I always find like 99% of the time they’re not that great at it. So if somebody is talking about how great their company culture is, I would say 99% of that time it’s garbage.
Jay
Interviewee
08:15
Well, that’s what I was going to say, because the other second big red flag to me is when I probably interviewed five or six people that all had the exact same answer about the company. But what was really weird about it now is I never once asked about it so, like they like forced it into the conversation that’s quite funny when you think about it now when you’re like what does the day to day of this role look like?
08:41
and then someone starts parroting off the team culture and how we work, and you’re like, okay, I didn’t ask that. It’s weird that you had the same answer as people, and it’s like that is really weird.
Nicola
Host
08:55
Thanks. So when you got into the, obviously you got the job after 500 interviews later.
Gina
Host
09:03
Parated interviews later.
Nicola
Host
09:05
Parated interviews. Nothing about you. Amazed, you got the job.
Gina
Host
09:09
We don’t care about you.
Nicola
Host
09:11
We don’t care about you at all.
Gina
Host
09:13
You don’t give a shit about. You just know that the company culture is amazing. You’re going to love it and you’re going to die loving it. That’s really what they were saying. We’re going to fucking die here.
Jay
Interviewee
09:22
Yeah, and in my final interview one of the panelists was in their care. You know the whole way through it and it’s like cool. So I genuinely thought they had a preferred candidate and like I was the one that they were dragging along to say that they interviewed.
Gina
Host
09:39
There’s a kind of freedom. In that, though, isn’t there a drag? Because you’re like fuck it, I’m just going to. Like, I’m just doing it to do it, it’s good, and like, if you don’t think you’re the preferred candidate, you just kind of show up and be who you are.
Jay
Interviewee
09:51
So yeah, there’s a freedom in that kind of what I say to people that I mentor. It’s like if you want to look for a new job, interview at a few places that you don’t really care about, first to get that rustiness out, so like your first interview isn’t the one you really want.
Gina
Host
10:07
So I kind of treated it like that and I guess like probably to to your, to your benefit, which is probably one of the reasons why you got the job, because you were probably just so like, like you know, what I kind of learned afterwards is that I feel like they didn’t necessarily want someone that was that experienced, because they were very controlling.
Jay
Interviewee
10:34
So the fact that I was probably a bit more like oh yeah, sure, whatever, probably like played into it.
Nicola
Host
10:39
And then when I got in and tried to do my role right, so when you got into the role and they were quite controlled, tell us a little bit. Let’s deep dive into the control, Into the control. I love Nicola.
Gina
Host
10:56
Her catchphrases circle back deep, dive Gorgeous.
Nicola
Host
11:01
Wow, I love it for you that you are such an asshole. I love this for you, thank you.
Gina
Host
11:07
I love you, nicola, and I love your catchphrases. I love you too.
Nicola
Host
11:11
I’m sorry, I love catchphrases as well.
Gina
Host
11:13
Okay, but yes, I know. So here’s the thing Nicola was going to say Go ahead.
Nicola
Host
11:21
What I was going to say was all right, you get into the organization, tell us a little bit about the organ, not anything identifiable ofs, but like, what did they do? What were they doing?
Jay
Interviewee
11:35
Well, it was weird because it was, I would say, day two or three. I was told here’s two people on your team you need to get rid of. So I hadn’t even completed my like onboarding process. And then they yeah, manage the mail.
Nicola
Host
11:55
Oh, do you see it? I mean you can if you can do it wherever you want to.
Jay
Interviewee
12:02
You just have to do it in a legal way.
Gina
Host
12:05
Were they? Were they contract? Were you a contractor or were you?
Jay
Interviewee
12:09
No, it’s a full time and I think, like Nicola, you can attest to this as well as like the way you the one of the benefits I’ve worked for a couple of American companies and one of the benefits of, I guess, at will. Employment is like there’s a lot less games or someone wants to get rid of you. You can actually just say you have to go on a campaign of like.
Gina
Host
12:35
Well, right, and I think from like there’s more. Like you have to have like things written up in your file, like it’s much, it’s a lengthier process, whereas here they could just decide they pay you too much and they found someone who they think they can do your job for like half the price, so buy yeah, yeah, it could. Or they just decide they don’t like you and they want to shit. Can you? It doesn’t.
Jay
Interviewee
12:59
Yeah.
13:00
So you have to think there’s a lot more nuance and kind of stuff to do it in New Zealand and then like to the point now where, if you get put on a performance improvement plan, you kind of know you’re on a ticking clock, whereas actually they’re supposed to be.
13:17
Hey, let’s help and coach you through it. But it’s actually like you know, we’re just in six months time, we know where this is going to go, we just all have to dance, dance around with it. But then they would just tell you it’s kind of weird and I’ve had this a little bit and I think I kind of remember it, nicola you telling me it’s the way it worked of how some guy at your kindergarten just came up and said something really racist to you because you were a little white person, and so the way that my manager would talk to me and like would tell me stories that were bonding, I was like what the hell do you think about me as a person? Like you know he would talk about how he’s been in meetings or people have cried and he’s just sat there going, like you can finish crying, like this meeting is continuing and like he would talk about how like it was.
14:07
it was like a badge of honor for him that he’d like knew how to get through these things and he had like a playbook for how to do it, which is kind of interesting because, you know, they tell you that when you stare and then a year later you see that happen to you and you’re like, okay, cool, so this is where we’re going with the playbook on how to fire people and how to manage through people crying in a meeting because you’re trying to fire them.
Nicola
Host
14:32
Oh, it’s happening to me right now. I’m seeing the words as they’re.
Gina
Host
14:39
But it’s like I think I’ve said this before it’s like people tell you exactly who they are if you listen closely enough. So with one of my previous employers, I remember my first week we were talking about someone who I nabbed as I kind of had a feeling that they were going to be in a problem, and my supervisor was like, well, you know, everyone’s basically fireable, so don’t worry if it. If she doesn’t step up, they don’t step up, they can be fired. So of course I was fired, because when you first go in, you think about it like, well, that’s not going to happen to me, right? That’s our thought. I feel like we think, well, we’re different because we have all this experience or whatever it is. We tell ourselves but if your company is saying so and so is expendable, we’re all expendable. Listen, right.
Jay
Interviewee
15:34
So that’s another thing that I think we don’t always you know, and it’s also been interesting in like a couple of places where I felt I feel like some bosses have already the same book from the 1980s, like, so I felt like three or four places where probably once a quarter there’ll be an old teams meeting about how we’re having too many meetings and everyone has to like stop having meetings and then the next quarter, you’re like none of you are working well together and like can you not see how one has has led to the other?
16:08
And I’ve been in like places where you’ve got like an executive team and then an extended leadership team, which is just a weird way of saying you’re not part of the decision making process, we just need to do it. And I always wish for a couple of them. If they were just. I’ve always said, like let me know what the rules of the game are and I’ll decide if I want to play them Like don’t, because it’s fine to say we don’t want you to be strategic, we don’t want you to do this, we just want you to execute things. Like tell people that don’t tell them that you want them to come up with ideas and be strategic and take ideas forward. And then just shit, can it like behind the back and stuff.
16:48
And I won place in particular was really weird where, like as a member of the LT, our boss went through all our calendars and like why are you having one of ones with, like the head of engineering and I’m like well, in my role, like he’s my counterpart to what we do, and then everything had to be done. You had your three on ones is what I called it because you had the executive team would come in and meet with every LT member once a week and they would just tell us what to do and it would depend on where you were in the day of like what you got so if you’re at the end of the day.
17:24
You probably got a really bad session because they were like annoyed with everyone before you and you got the thing with you managed to get in at 9am on Monday morning and you could get your stuff in first, and it would like snowball into someone else.
Gina
Host
17:39
So has there been anything like so incredibly insane that has happened to you in any of your toxic workplaces that you would like to share?
Jay
Interviewee
17:52
Ah, insane. Yeah, there’s one place where I worked, where I got hired, and in my four week notice period I showed up and no one from the leadership team that hired me was there anymore. So during all that wasn’t there a new CEO, a new, everything like came in.
Gina
Host
18:13
Did they even know that they hired you?
Jay
Interviewee
18:15
No. So when I showed up, there was no laptop, no, nothing, it was like. But I was in their system so I could like get myself in the door.
Gina
Host
18:27
Right.
Jay
Interviewee
18:29
So I got in and I went to like where my desk was, because I had been introduced. I had been shown around by the team like the week before or something I’d come to like a Friday night drink, so I kind of knew my way in. But I was sitting there for about two hours on my first day. No one was here, did you even?
Nicola
Host
18:45
know who your manager was Like was there any? Information.
Jay
Interviewee
18:49
No, there wasn’t anything Like there was, and then my team that I was working with had set up my laptop, so they didn’t know. So, like I was working in but I wasn’t in the payroll system but I had access to like all the code and everything and it probably took me Were you just sitting there doing nothing.
Gina
Host
19:07
That’s so awkward, yeah, I was sitting there.
Jay
Interviewee
19:09
I just kind of joined the team meetings and, like you know, when people walked around, like I think I don’t know.
Gina
Host
19:16
You just ripped this way into this conference room. See what they’re chatting about.
Jay
Interviewee
19:21
So I learned how to use the barista coffee machine, which is really useful.
Gina
Host
19:25
That is actually.
Nicola
Host
19:27
Making people coffee to be like. Oh yeah, I’m the new guy.
Jay
Interviewee
19:32
What was really funny was is how I met the new H of hate. The new head of HR was I was. I didn’t know how to use the milk for properly, and so you know, if you don’t get it right, it screams really loudly. And she came running out to like tell me that I didn’t like knock it off. Then she was like who are you? And that’s when she found out that was a new stator. So if I hadn’t made that bad cup of coffee, I don’t know when I would have like.
20:01
I would have been in the production process, or if I’d still be there tonight, just sitting there following people into the meetings.
Gina
Host
20:08
That’s hilarious though it is always offered that first day when you don’t know what’s going on and like everyone’s always so busy with their own work and you’re just kind of like okay, like ready to work, excited, you know. So strange.
Jay
Interviewee
20:24
And then the one that I was hired by an American company. I was hired by a company called York. I just had a laptop. I hadn’t spoken to anyone, so a laptop just showed up and you’re like cool, do I just log in? And because 9am. But 9am Monday morning is 3pm Eastern Sunday, so like they weren’t even working on my first day. So you’re just sitting there in your home office, you’re in a water bottle and you’re just there to see what happens?
Gina
Host
20:59
So what happened? How did you get started with that company? They eventually came online.
Jay
Interviewee
21:04
Yeah, well, because we had a Wellington office. So, the CTO in Wellington, who I’d never met during the process, rang me up Like from the clock, when they kind of remember, I think, when I had three failed login attempts and then they realized that they’re like who is?
Nicola
Host
21:20
this guy, yeah, trying to log on with three failed login attempts.
Jay
Interviewee
21:24
Yeah, and then so when people go, why did you only stay for like a year at these places, just like because they didn’t know I was working there?
Gina
Host
21:30
I think it was not getting off to a good start. They didn’t even know they hired me. They didn’t tell me what my work hours were like. I showed up and nobody, nobody knew where to put me. But I’m very confused. Yeah, I remember I showed up to nobody told me this is years ago. Nobody told me that this company that I got hired at didn’t work from like nine to five. They worked from like 1030 to like 630.
21:58
It was like yeah, so I showed up at like 845, all early and it was one of those like loft style places in Brooklyn and you could bring your dog to work. So it was me and my little dog and we’re sitting outside in this cold, like cold loft, like there was like it’s like only insulated in the office areas waiting for like it, and I’m like nobody know. And then, like the first person who showed up to open the office, I was like, oh hi, I’m the new person and they were just like, okay, I was like this is awkward, it was so bad because, like they were like, and then then finally, someone was like we didn’t know, today was your first day and I was like, huh, like I have an email. Like nobody knew. It was like my first day and it was just, it was so weird and bizarre and awkward, so I totally understand that.
Jay
Interviewee
22:45
Yeah, but especially when you’re like who’s your manager? And you say their name like oh, she doesn’t work here anymore. Oh yeah, good to know Right.
Gina
Host
22:56
Wait, exactly, that’s even worse. I remember the manager who hired me didn’t show up for like the first week of my work and like they didn’t tell anyone else that it was my first week and so people were like scrambling to like onboard me it was. I get that a lot. Have you had anything like that happen to you, Nikola?
Nicola
Host
23:15
Probably not really.
Gina
Host
23:17
No, you’re just very memorable.
Nicola
Host
23:20
I’m always pretty memorable. I, you know I, you know I, I, I. Yeah. I can’t think of a time that that’s ever happened, even with like big restructures you know I’m that’s lucky you.
Gina
Host
23:39
So why don’t you tell us some of the lessons you learned then, jay, from your various toxic workplace experiences?
Jay
Interviewee
23:49
The biggest kind of tool lesson. What have you is that I take now is if someone you cared about told you what they were going through, what would your advice to them be? So, like I remember my wife like sat me down one day. It was just like this is enough, because, like, if I was going through this, you would tell me get out. But you don’t do that for yourself and it’s really weird and it’s good to try and build that self reflection on it. Like you know, when you’re feeling we all have our tales right. So mine was. I stay up late and I like gain. So once I start seeing and going later and later into the evenings that, okay, something’s not quite right. So, being able to separate yourself from your own situation a little bit and just go, okay, if this was my wife, brother, sister, whoever, would I want them to go through this? And if you would say no to someone else, why would you put yourself through it? Like, why wouldn’t you take yourself out of that situation?
24:57
So that’s one big thing and another one is just people. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that successful people aren’t necessarily good at their job. They’re lucky a lot of the time. And some people are like there’s that real Venn Diagram of people that are like really successful, but they’re really good and like one of the companies I would name was like the best company I’ve ever worked for, which is HazardCon, Like and I didn’t realize how good they were. And then I left and I’m like, should I just stay there?
Gina
Host
25:33
Sometimes it’s the devil, you know right.
Jay
Interviewee
25:37
Yeah, and one of my big issues was that I like climbed too quickly, I was too ambitious and I think, if I’m being self critical, I probably got too senior too quickly and I hadn’t built up the tools to be in that position. And if you think of, like what we talked about a bit earlier, about whether looking at yourself or whether you were the toxic one or not.
26:00
Like so, I was in really turbulent companies and it was really easy to climb off the back of other people because they weren’t happy. So you could come in and you could do it and you could make it easier because you’re like essentially stepping on those that are failing.
Nicola
Host
26:16
So it’s actually easy to win because you’re just like you guys suck. Anyway. The minimum work is going to make me look awesome, or if I do want to get others.
Gina
Host
26:28
Right. It’s like quiet hiring, because it’s like if you can just easily do Nicholas job, who’s got 5 million things going on, then they’ll get rid of Nikola and you’ll have a higher, maybe a slight raise, maybe a better, you know, position, title or whatever, and but you don’t really know what you’re doing. You just happen to be good at whatever. That one thing Nikola wasn’t good at Right. So it’s like you just I can’t, yeah. But then it’s like you have to ask yourself the birds eye view If you’re doing that, other people are going to do that to you.
Jay
Interviewee
26:59
Well, that was. The other thing is like now, being in like team lead positions for a while, is you realize that it’s really difficult to still give yourself to people when you’ve been kind of hurt and back stabbed. Whatever word you want, you want to use and like trying to be trying to not let it affect who you are as a person is a really difficult thing for me. So you just go people because people will take everything from you.
27:34
I know it’s harsh to say, but like a lot of your work, friends are not actually your friends. If it comes down between you and them. You both have mortgages to pay.
Gina
Host
27:44
They’re going to throw you under the bus, yeah, 100%.
Jay
Interviewee
27:50
It took me way longer than I would like to admit to kind of learn that a little bit. But then you don’t think we’ve learned it.
Gina
Host
27:58
I don’t think, like even Nikola and I we talk about toxic workplaces and if I were to go, if you were to hire me tomorrow, j, and be like, oh, she’s my friend, I, you know, I met her on this podcast, she’s cool I would genuinely think that we were friends and that might at one push comes to shove, like what you just said. If it’s your job or my job, you’re going to protect yourself. So it’s. You know. I don’t know if that’s a lesson that humans can ever learn, unless you’re sociopath Like and you have no feel you do. You know what I mean Like it’s a hard. It’s a hard line because it’s like our like, we have a camaraderie people and you’d like to think they’re your friends. But are they real? You know it’s, it’s a tough line to tell. I think.
Jay
Interviewee
28:43
And I think for me anyway, and I can’t speak for anyone else. When I think back of it, it’s like all the people that rallied around me in the past have always been people that reported into me and probably bounds me up to go and take the bullets, so like I’ve been, told I have a hero complex. I’m very easy to like.
29:04
you can wind me up and hold her and fight a million fights and I think some people have used my naivete against me in the past, but what I kind of struggle with at the moment, though, is like how do you not let that turn you off from helping people?
Nicola
Host
29:24
Yeah, how do you? How do you feel it’s changed your leadership style now? Do you feel like you’ve got a more empathetic leadership style, or do you feel like you’re more? I don’t know. You tell me what, where, where do you think you’ve landed now?
Jay
Interviewee
29:38
I think I’ve developed different leadership styles now, where I think I only had one before and it’s more like I’ve got a team of 12 now and I’ve learned that you can’t be the same style for each member of the team and it’s much better earlier on. Avoid the instinct to jump in and solve things and like learn about the, the person. So like you’ve got some people that need cold, hard facts and figures, some people need a cuddle, some people need to kick up the s and you, like you, can’t be everything for everyone. And one thing I do with the team now that I have is if I’m having a bad day, I’ll tell them that I’m having a bad day and if we’ve got an upcoming one on one, I let them up out of it. Like I’ll say, hey, like I’m having a really bad day, but really happy to still meet you, but I want it to be your.
30:36
Choice because I’ve been in loads of one on ones with my managers where they literally sit there now until you all their problems and it gets to like 57 minutes on the clock and they go. Anything you want to discuss you like, yeah, I’m trying to take a shower from all the TMI. Yeah.
Gina
Host
31:10
So is there any other parting words or advice or anything that when you were thinking of coming on, that you really wanted to make sure people heard? Because what, like we touched on earlier? You know, nicola and I just wanted to have a? When we started the podcast, we just were like, let’s open it up and like, have it like just an open conversation, because I didn’t realize how many people don’t talk about this subject. But yet anyone you ask, if you say hey, have you ever been part of a toxic workplace? I think everyone would say yes, at least once.
Jay
Interviewee
31:44
Right, my biggest marketing advice for anyone would be. It’s not personal, it just feels like it is because, like a lot of the time, it’s really not because a lot of the bosses you’ve had in the past that you think, hated you or whatever, like they don’t think about you.
Gina
Host
32:03
No, or they have like, or they have their own like work trauma that has shaped them to be the kind of boss or leader that they are, which is still not personal, because that’s their own stuff that they have to figure out.
32:17
We’re just like all wounded humans walking around trying to pretend like we know what we’re doing and none of us do and I feel like if we just all like leveled with each other and I was like, hey, you know, I’m good at what I do, but sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing, but I still figure it out, like we’re cool, I feel like most people would be like all right, I get that same. They don’t feel like same.
Jay
Interviewee
32:39
Yeah, and I think one of the other big lessons I learned was that, like, two things can be true at the same time right, it can be a bad place for me to work, but it can be a good place for you to work, and some of the mistakes I’ve probably made more junior in my career, or like trying to recruit people to how bad it was to work, and then that feedback gets back up to the boss.
33:02
So like, don’t, your experience won’t be the same as someone else’s, so try and understand where they’re coming from. And some people don’t care about a bullying culture because they know how to work within that they’re like. This job works for me, I know how to work with my boss, and that’s fine they can have that.
Gina
Host
33:23
It’s like good for you. Keep going on with your bad self, but for me, I gotta go.
Jay
Interviewee
33:30
Yeah, I gotta get out of this because it’s not worth it and then, if you feel like, it’s not worth it? It’s probably not worth it.
Gina
Host
33:36
It’s not, or if it’s affecting, like, your mental health or your physical health or your sleep. I think that’s also a really big like self-reflection box that you can tick like okay, is my job consistently affecting my sleep, consistently affecting my mood? These are things I’ve learned. Is my, has my physical health gone down or up since I started? I like, did I gain weight? Did I lose weight? Am I having more physical ailments? Do I feel good? Whatever? I think it’s just, you know, take a few minutes to check in with yourself. And another thing that you touched on, jay, was how, when you get to have a certain amount of experience, it’s, it’s tougher for you Because people will hire you thinking that you might be the great elixir for the problem. But do they really want that? And usually the answer is no.
Jay
Interviewee
34:32
Yeah, I don’t want a yes man. Unless you disagree with me, then I definitely want that yes man to come back. It’s kind of been my experience, which is really weird, yeah exactly.
Gina
Host
34:43
I just want the expert to come in and tell me we’re doing everything right, and then you can go. If you disagree with me, based on your experience, we don’t like you because you’re whatever, arrogant, whatever insert adjective here and you can hurry along, hop away.
Jay
Interviewee
35:00
Yeah, and then just don’t chase the money. That’s what I’ve done and I know it’s easy to say after the fact and it’s hard to turn it down.
Gina
Host
35:07
but if someone’s paying above market rate.
Jay
Interviewee
35:10
That’s probably a reason.
Gina
Host
35:11
There’s a reason, yeah.
Jay
Interviewee
35:13
There’s a real reason for it.
Gina
Host
35:14
Yeah, I remember when I was leaving one of the other places, the offer I got was like X thousands of dollars less and when you work in after tax and per week, it’s like, would you pay $60 a week not to be this stressed Because once you get over, say, 120k everything you get on top of that doesn’t make a huge difference in your and that’s also a whole different other topic that I just want to barf about, because you’re right, you could be making a decent amount, like a decent six figures, and unless you’re, it’s like from like 150, I want to say here in America to like 300, it doesn’t make that much difference. But then once you’re over that 300, that’s when you feel the difference. It’s like a lot, yeah, yeah. So yeah, going back to what you were saying, like the six, would you pay $60 every week or every day to not feel like this? And what do you think?
Jay
Interviewee
36:12
Well, yeah, exactly.
Gina
Host
36:13
Well, now the answer is yes, right, it’s like fuck, yeah, I pay $60 to not feel like a piece of shit and like shit on all day at work. I would I absolutely would.
Jay
Interviewee
36:23
But I’ve gone from my daughter asking me not to go to work to dropping her off at school, three days away. You know just that thing Right?
Nicola
Host
36:30
Yeah, well, we do have a very family-friendly work environment.
Jay
Interviewee
36:35
We do.
Gina
Host
36:36
You guys do now right yeah.
Jay
Interviewee
36:38
It’s actually just it reminded me of one of the biggest red flags that I would look for in any interview process now was the promise of a promotion to come. So you see it a lot in product roles of like come in as the senior product manager and then within a year we’ll promote you to head off or CPR or whatever it is, and then you just spend three years chasing that grass ring. That was never going to be there, because if they want you to go into that role, why wouldn’t they have you in there?
Gina
Host
37:08
Why wouldn’t they just hire you for that? Yeah? Or like have a road map Right, like if you hit X, y and Z by six months, then you get this Right. If they really that’s what I always say If someone really wants to do something, they’ll do it.
Jay
Interviewee
37:22
Yeah.
Gina
Host
37:22
Right, so it’s very similar. In that situation too, and without trying to, move more privilegied again.
Jay
Interviewee
37:29
It’s like be very wary of ESOPs, or like share programs, because usually they have a one, two, three year cliff and what I used to think was like oh cool, so if I stay here I’ll get this. But sometimes it actually puts a countdown clock on your employment.
Gina
Host
37:49
Before you go on. Maybe not everyone knows what ESOP is. I don’t know if it’s very prevalent anymore here in America, so do you want to just give us a little? It was like back in the day, like when my dad was working, and it’s more prevalent in like Fortune 500 companies but a lot of startups. I don’t know if they do it anymore, so do you mind just giving a brief overview?
Jay
Interviewee
38:13
So for people who don’t know, it’s a big thing kind of in New Zealand and Australia, because it’s a way of like not giving you 150k salary, they’ll give you 100k salary and 50,000, say ESOP. So ESOP is like employee share of profits. It can be different things. It’s like a shared scheme where they go.
Gina
Host
38:33
So how does that equate to money, or is it just stocks in the company?
Jay
Interviewee
38:37
There would be stocks that are valued at $160. But what you don’t realize is like they’re not actually your shares.
38:48
They’re set aside for you and you can buy them at that price or at a one year, two year, three year cliff will give you X amount of shares. So you think the total package is worth $250,000, let’s say. But you actually would never see any of that until they sell the company or until you actually buy into it. But it sounds great. It’s a bit like the burners right. Like I would never take. I would prefer to take If you were to give me 100k salary and 50k. I’d prefer to take 120 salary and just forget about them.
Nicola
Host
39:23
Right.
Jay
Interviewee
39:23
Burners is like at the end of the year, someone else can just decide the company didn’t meet performance targets or your team didn’t meet performance targets, so you don’t get your.
Gina
Host
39:33
Right, so it’s subject to something that is not necessarily a metric right. And I also think with ESOP you have to be proactive about it. Right, like if you want to buy the shares you have to do it. Or like Right, so you don’t actually get the money from it. You own part of the company and then you have to invest it on the stock market. So it’s like an extra job in a lot of ways for you and for me. I had an ESOP at one point. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t even pay attention.
Jay
Interviewee
40:09
Yeah, I think it’s that interesting thing of Because also then, as you learn, more and more companies can just dilute shares if they want to. Right.
Gina
Host
40:20
So it’s basically like a really shitty workaround.
Jay
Interviewee
40:23
Yeah, it’s like we can give you 300 shares, but at the next AGM we’re going to release 300,000 shares more of that.
Gina
Host
40:32
And yours are going to be worth the penny, right, and you, literally, it’s worth the penny, so fuck you.
Jay
Interviewee
40:38
Yeah.
Gina
Host
40:39
Yeah.
Jay
Interviewee
40:40
It’s all that kind of Slidehand magic right. Look over here, look over here, look over here. Like.
Gina
Host
40:46
And I think a lot of I mean. To me it just sounds like a Ponzi scheme, it’s like a scam. Yeah, it’s like oh, we’ll give you stocks, but guess what? They don’t really mean anything. So you’re really only getting paid 90,000 a year, even though it says compensation’s 150.
Jay
Interviewee
41:03
Yeah, and there’s another thing. I’m not sure exactly what it’s like with the 401k, but in New Zealand we have our Kiwi Saber, which is our pension scheme, retirement scheme. So all the employees will give you 3% of your salary. So if you take less of a base salary, you’re getting less contributions. So the bonuses and ESOPs won’t be factored and I think a lot of Right.
Gina
Host
41:32
So you’re getting 3% of $20,000 a year, which is garbage. By the time you or I are ready to retire in 15 years or so, that’s going to be worth a. You could probably buy a gallon of milk with that.
Jay
Interviewee
41:49
But even if you were like, We’ve got a three-year vesting cliff for ESOP. Our average tenure is 1.8 years, you know what I mean. It’s obviously a tool. It doesn’t mean anything.
Gina
Host
42:01
Yeah, I know, I know. And like here in America nobody gets a pension. Yeah, it’s kind of there is something nice.
Jay
Interviewee
42:10
Something about it as well, like if you think of working earlier in our careers where, like, slack is great, but Slack also doesn’t let you switch off.
Gina
Host
42:23
Oh no, I won’t use Slack. I’m like an old school. People probably think I’m a dinosaur. I’m like if you need me, email me or text me, I don’t care.
Jay
Interviewee
42:30
Yeah, and I kind of miss. One of the few things I miss about being an electrician is like when you left site.
Gina
Host
42:37
you were done, you left.
Jay
Interviewee
42:39
You know, like you don’t bring a cable zone with you and like them up a phone, yeah you’re like come on, let me strip these wires at home.
Gina
Host
42:45
It’s like I’ll do it tomorrow. Yeah, and that’s the one thing I don’t like about working from home. Even though I have a dedicated room in my house that is just my office, I don’t like being able Like I don’t not like being able to like go to a dedicated workspace outside of my home. I would prefer to still be in office, to be honest, but that’s just not. And now that everyone’s after COVID, now everyone’s remote. We gave up our office space in New York, so it’s just like it’s not viable right now, but I liked it. For me, it worked.
Jay
Interviewee
43:25
I need a mix, like I need to talk to adults face to face, like I need that body language and I need that. It’s a bit like with the team leadership question, like body language is so important.
Gina
Host
43:39
Well, that’s the thing. Like I got hired where Nicola and I met. I got hired there for a consultancy and it was all remote and it was very heavily Slack. So I would say something like to one of my director reports. They’d be like oh my God, you’re killing me. But on Slack it sounds like I’m being a dick. But if I were to just say to you like Jay, oh my God, you’re killing me, you would know I was like I was just joking, like it was something said in jest, like I didn’t mean it.
Jay
Interviewee
44:13
But it’s what I say to my team now was like if you tell? Me, you’re fine, I have to take you out.
Gina
Host
44:20
Right.
Jay
Interviewee
44:20
If we’re in person together, I can see that you’re not.
Gina
Host
44:23
If you’re not, fine.
Jay
Interviewee
44:25
Right Different way.
Gina
Host
44:27
Right and I just think it’s a little green dot make, I’m fine.
44:33
I just think it really does people and humans a disservice because you don’t there’s a lot you’re missing, like even it, not just tone, but like, yeah, you can pick up on nonverbal cues and I feel like it does everyone a disservice not being in person, even if it’s just being in person once a month, getting to know people and their weirdness what else could I say? How everyone operates. But it’s like what you said about you can’t be the same leader for everyone, because some people need a shoulder to cry on, some people need a kick in the ass, some people need literally to be told what to do, and then other people you need to push back and have them figure it out on their own.
Jay
Interviewee
45:23
Well, I’m a bit. I’m a huge American football fan, so usually-.
Nicola
Host
45:27
Oh are you.
Jay
Interviewee
45:29
Yeah, so my aunt used to live in New York, so I used to go back and forth over there. Where?
Gina
Host
45:35
in New York, did she live?
Jay
Interviewee
45:37
She lived in Manhattan because she worked as a events manager for some seemed like a really impressive thing. When I was younger, I thought we was like for her.
Gina
Host
45:47
Well, because I’m from Manhattan but I was born in the Bronx and there’s a little pocket of the Bronx that is very Irish, like off the boat Irish, and it’s called Woodlawn and I was wondering if maybe she had lived there, because it’s highly Irish.
Jay
Interviewee
46:06
No, she didn’t live there because she wanted to get away. Yeah, but I’m really drawn to Buffalo.
Gina
Host
46:17
Oh wait, like the actual location or the sports team.
Jay
Interviewee
46:21
Well, the sports team and the people Like well, the animals too, but like the people. So if you think my grandmother was a huge pro wrestling and meatloaf fan, so that’s like what I grew up with. So if you see and I was really one of the most fun things about visiting New York was just like winding people up that the bills were technically the only New York team. The other two teams were New Jersey teams and, like you can just get all the jets.
Gina
Host
46:48
Well, it’s stupid, they’re. They’re New York Jets, new York Giants. They play in Jersey, their stadiums in Jersey. I mean, I think at this point we should just like rename it like Long Island New Jersey, because it’s like Long Island, new York and New Jersey are like kind of all fused but they’re not. But I don’t know, it’s weird.
Nicola
Host
47:07
Well, I know about Long Island. Is this ice tease?
Gina
Host
47:12
Oh, yes, and do you know anything about the Long Island medium? No, okay, that’s the reality Medium ice tease. No, she’s this crazy lady and her name’s Teresa Caputo and she’s from Long Island and she’s a medium and she could tell you that she sees dead people and she could talk to you you people that passed and she has crazy nails and big blonde hair and she wears really crazy clothes and she talks just like this.
Nicola
Host
47:37
I love her already.
Gina
Host
47:38
I know.
Nicola
Host
47:39
She’s my auntie.
Gina
Host
47:41
There’s this really amazing scene where she goes into buy a refrigerator or a washing machine and she’s wearing a gray sweatsuit, like gray top, gray bottom, with crazy Christian Louboutin heels, and her hair is like a big helmet. Anyway, look it up, you’ll enjoy it. Anyway, just for your pleasure, I’m adding this right here to our little chat.
Nicola
Host
48:02
Oh, is this the picture over there? Just click on the link. I’m clicking on the link. I shouldn’t click on the link.
Gina
Host
48:08
Because just look at the picture that comes up, oh Jesus. Yeah, that is Teresa Caputo. She’s the Long Island medium If you go to the.
Nicola
Host
48:19
Is it like an OnlyFans club?
Gina
Host
48:20
No, no, no, she is like the spirits. Talk to me, you guys. It’s insane and you should watch it. You’re a he. Who’s a he? He’s amazing, like it’s so bad that it’s good you know who, you know who. Gwen Shamblin. You know who she is, I know, yes, I know, but Teresa Caputo brings it. Let me just tell you. Do you have a voice again?
Nicola
Host
48:43
one more time, because we loved it.
Gina
Host
48:44
This is what you call Long Island Italian, and I know because my mom is Long Island Italian and I grew up around. Oh, that’s racist. No, teresa Caputo, no. But Teresa Caputo and her husband was Larry, and Larry went to LA and cheated on her. So now they’re done.
Nicola
Host
49:02
They’re done, oh my goodness, it’s me.
Gina
Host
49:05
Anyway, we digress. Anyway, we should not go on the podcast though, nicola, because we keep getting yelled at for digressing too much Mainly me, I get yelled at on our I will edit this out so we stop being yelled at.
Nicola
Host
49:18
But seriously, Teresa.
Gina
Host
49:19
Caputo, that’s not funny.
Nicola
Host
49:21
You know what? I know? This is hilarious, and you know what? It’s not that you’re being yelled at. It’s just that people don’t appreciate or are inclusive of your diverse thinking.
Gina
Host
49:34
We could go with that. I do tend to digress. I am self-reflective. The reviews are typically not wrong, but I think we’re not podcasters. We’re figuring this out as we go. Give us a little slack. But can we just quickly talk about, nicola, how someone gave us a one-star review and just bounced Our only one-star review. Someone just gave us a one-star review and I was looking to see if there was any. You know how you could rate it at the bottom and explain why you rated it that number Nothing. I was like that is so fucking savage. Good for them One-star. And they were like hey, did it, we can bounce.
Nicola
Host
50:20
It could have been a finger slip.
Gina
Host
50:23
Probably not. Probably not, because I went back and listened to some of ours and there’s been some episodes that I’m like this blows, I can’t get through this and I sat through it. So you know it is what it is Like. We’re figuring it out.
Jay
Interviewee
50:39
Well, I can give you a cause for hope. I’ve had customers before that have given us a one-star review because they thought one was good. So I’ve had reviews of apps I’ve worked on where, like this is the best product I’ve ever had.
Nicola
Host
50:55
One-star.
Jay
Interviewee
50:56
One-star.
Nicola
Host
50:58
You know what? One number one at the top.
Gina
Host
51:03
Okay, okay, all right.
Jay
Interviewee
51:06
I still think that.
Gina
Host
51:06
I still think they were like unlistenable One bounce.
Jay
Interviewee
51:11
But at least they cared enough to do that. I just bounce.
Gina
Host
51:15
Yeah, I would just be like this isn’t for me bounce, like I even like the podcast that I listened to religiously and love. I don’t even review them. I don’t even give them any stars, which is probably fucked up. Since I’m now a podcaster, I should probably go back and at least give them stars. I don’t have to write anything, but.
Nicola
Host
51:34
In recognition, though, of J being with us today. I did just have a look at our podcast chart rankings, and we are ranking currently number 60 in Ireland. Wow, yeah, so that’s that.
Gina
Host
51:45
And I found any 60. All right. Well, okay, back on topic, even though I feel like we should keep in the one-star review conversation. Fine.
Nicola
Host
51:56
We can keep it in.
Gina
Host
51:58
Because, like I, kind of like that person.
Nicola
Host
52:02
Savage. That’s a brave and bold news.
Gina
Host
52:05
That’s what I’m saying, like I kind of respect them for just being that savage Like fuck you bitches. One star out.
Jay
Interviewee
52:11
Well, your whole podcast is about speaking your truth, right?
Gina
Host
52:14
Right, so that’s what I’m saying. I pray I’m here for it. Maybe I should start leaving one star reviews, like someone. Of my favorite phrases is no is a complete sentence, and that’s the equivalent of no is a complete sentence, I mean when it comes to rating something, one star out Love it All right. All right, nicola, come back, because we’re going to sign off now. Thank you for your time, everyone.
Nicola
Host
52:40
Thank you for your time.
Gina
Host
52:40
Yeah, nicola knows where to find you, so we’ll put all that stuff up, right?
Jay
Interviewee
52:46
She’s just beside me at work, so she can definitely know where to find me.
Nicola
Host
52:51
Well, it was lovely having you. Thank you, jay, we really appreciate it. Yeah, and hopefully by next week our episode should be live.
Jay
Interviewee
52:59
Nice, awesome, thanks, team.
Gina
Host
53:01
Thanks, bye. Hey in attendance here, voilà, haha.

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